Design Behavioral Interviews: The STAR Method
STAR, or “situation, task, action, result,” is an interviewing technique that helps you understand a prospect’s behavior in different scenarios, successfully adopted by Amazon. Each step in STAR is a question that the interviewee must answer:
- “What was the situation?”
- “What were you tasked with?”
- “What actions did you take?”
- “What was the result?”
The STAR method doesn’t just give you insight into how a prospect handles tricky situations. It also gives you a chance to ask a lot of “Why” questions and assess their values and attitudes about those situations – all-powerful identifiers of culture fit!
For instance, as an SEO agency, you can pose questions like:
- Describe a stressful situation where you had to manage client expectations regarding an “at-risk” SEO objective.
- What is a difficult decision that you had to make at work in the past 12 months?
- Tell me about a time that you managed a successful SEO campaign. What would that project look like without you?
- Talk about a time when you had to collaborate with an unfamiliar client team.
These questions, and their STAR answers, will yield much more valuable information about culture fit than generic questions like, “Are you a moral person?” or, “Do you consider yourself a team player?”
How Do You Communicate Your Agency’s Culture?
During an interview, it’s not just you, as an employer, asking questions. It’s a two-way street, where both the agency and the candidate figure out whether they’re a good fit for each other.
In some ways, it’s very much like dating! There’s the critical getting-to-know-you phase, where you identify what you have in common and where you align on important values.
And for this phase to be successful, you need to be fully transparent about your culture during your recruitment, something that our agency leaders stressed quite often.
Even better, you should consider designing a culture book that communicates your vision about business, employees’ life, values, and attitudes, etc. After all, a recruitment process doesn’t start when the job is posted.
Consider the Continuous Recruitment Approach
SEO Works’ Managing Director Ben Foster and their Head of SEO, Paul Friend, described their adoption of a “continuous recruitment” mindset, as the agency’s hiring needs extended.
Having a continuous recruitment mindset means you don’t just prepare at the moment that you need to expand your agency, but making sure that you’re always ready so that when you need to grow, you can do it fast. This is particularly important with SEO agencies whose hiring needs can be highly variable and may suddenly increase when taking on new, high-volume clients.
Here’s how they do this at SEO Works:
- They always stay in touch with people in their industry to know who to reach out to when they need to hire.
- They stay on top of job boards, LinkedIn, personal networks, and in-agency referrals all year round.
- They promote from within, evaluating their agency at every level to determine which employees are best placed on the right pathways for growth.
By having this mindset, your agency will always have a picture of the talent available in the industry and be prepared to hire quickly when the need arises.
Part of this preparedness is having flexible, scalable systems for qualifying and recruiting new hires, including a comprehensive onboarding process that’s designed to help new hires adapt to your company culture as quickly as possible.
Can You ‘Train’ Cultural Fit?
While it is theoretically possible to train certain desired behaviors, it’s not a sustainable approach as things may remain superficial or, even, deepen frustrations with time – it’s much better to focus on targeting culturally compatible employees.
However, what you can do is make it easier for new recruits to integrate with your company.
SEO Works’ onboarding process is one great example of how to do this.
It isn’t just about teaching people how to use the company’s preferred SEO tools, but showing them the specific ways that the agency uses each tool for each specific process. This ensures that new hires are already on the same page as the rest of the company when it comes to their SEO methodology.
Plus, the team designs teaching moments and materials like templates, good and bad examples of campaigns, a constant sharing culture, and even external add-ons – from live custom training sessions offered by the core SEO tools to leadership coaches for the agency’s top management.
If you don’t have an exhaustive process like this at the ready, you can also align new hires around your agency goals and activities using the OKRs framework. This adds transparency across the organization, highlights the shared business vision, and how each of the employees directly contributes to it.
These types of onboarding systems don’t just keep new hires up to speed with best practices – they also ensure that new hires further align with the company culture.
Recruiting for cultural fit takes time.
You need to have regular meetings with employees, earnestly listen to candidates, and design your systems and processes to optimize for cultural fit. But, considering the time and resources that can be saved by reducing employee churn, it’s something that’s well worth the effort.
One of the best ways to ensure a cultural fit is to have a unified, consistent onboarding and training process that engages your employees and imparts them with everything they need to fit in.
At SEOmonitor, we not only provide you with a robust SEO platform – we provide on-demand, custom training, and onboarding for every role in your SEO agency so that you make the best use of our capabilities.
This is just one of the ways in which we help agencies focus on what matters.
Join us and our SEO agencies community in the journey to bring more transparency and measurability to the SEO industry.